In order to be “competitive” as a public transport system, economic efficiency is an important requirement. In the context of vehicle layout planning this is often subordinated to other essential aspects such as practicality, which in practice leads to the opposite of what is desired. Incorrectly understood approaches to economy such as maximum space utilisation for seats, can in reality lead to increasing economical and operational problems, and in the event of an emergency can become a serious safety risk!
Particularly in railways, and here again especially in long-distance transport, there has long been a tendency to build in as many seats as possible in order to achieve the best possible economic efficiency through the high capacity thus created. However, this circumstance not only leads to a loss of comfort but also poses serious operational problems in many respects, which are often not considered especially when purchasing vehicles. The often applied evaluation criterion of the highest possible number of seats and the expected lower acquisition and operating costs per passenger is one-dimensional and thus insufficient, as it clearly contradicts reality in several respects.
Particularly in long-distance train traffic, but also on many short-distance routes especially when serving cruise ships or airports, the volume of luggage is often underestimated and a factor not taken seriously enough thus influencing the criteria for dwell time, achievable seat occupancy, passenger satisfaction and safety.
The type, size, weight and number of the respective pieces of luggage depend significantly on the parameters of the purpose in combination with the duration of the journey as well as the age and gender of the travellers and the existing group size.
Over 20 years of intensive observation it can be seen that the volumes of individual pieces of luggage tend to become larger. This is due to an increase in comfort during transport, especially in combination with equipment with wheels. For example, pieces of luggage that have to be carried and weigh approx. 14 kg are perceived to be equally as heavy as pieces of luggage that weigh approx. 21 kg but are equipped with two wheels. Whereas about 20 years ago 50% of suitcases taken on train journeys were not equipped with wheels and therefore had to be carried, ten years ago this proportion was only about 5%. In the meantime, almost 100% of suitcases are so-called trolleys, which are equipped with wheels.
In line with the comfort gained by rolling, increasingly larger pieces of luggage are being produced and used by travellers. On the one hand, this leads to an increase in the size of the individual pieces of luggage and also in their weight. Meanwhile, the majority of trolleys are equipped with four wheels. In many transport situations this results in a further increase in comfort, which leads to the assumption that these pieces of luggage will be perceived as even more comfortable or even lighter in comparison to their weight, and that a further increase in luggage volume and packing weight can be expected in the near future.
Railway-News magazine Issue 1, February 2023: netwiss - Improved Efficiency of Passenger Cars.
Railway-News magazine Issue 3, September 2022: netwiss – Optimise Passenger Vehicles and Increase Efficiency with Just a Few Clicks!
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